September arrives and we really notice the earlier coming of night. Our vaccination teams always want to be sure they are away from the woods and fields before our stripey friends emerge from their setts, making sure we do not disturb them. We also really notice the ending of our vaccination season, and miss the challenges and fun it brings, all shared with differing members of the team.
The season starts in May, but we actively prepare well ahead of then. Looking back to March, we started with a training day for new volunteers held at Wytham Woods. As we have come to expect, where badgers are involved, as well as sneaking into our hearts, they can create their very own special challenges. Thus, it was that en route to the training session we received an emergency call for rescue of a badger under some shipping containers. Let us just say a badger finds it easy to flatten itself under such a container and humans do not! Nevertheless, with the badger rescued, our training session started only a little late.
Our group of volunteers have worked extremely hard over the season, and we could not be prouder of them. Those new volunteers we first met in March joined our existing group of vaccinators, trappers, and pre-baiters, quickly finding their feet during a very hectic first Round which covered 5 different landowners with 13 badger setts between them.
Over the season, the team continued to work tirelessly through the heavy rain in June and on into the driest summer in decades. With long summer evenings we enjoyed beautiful woodland settings, fields, and hedgerows across Oxfordshire. With occasional sightings of a badger misbehaving by coming out early to share a sunny evening, we also saw foxes and deer.
Vaccination mornings start before dawn and our amazing volunteers were all on-site on time, knowing their roles and working like the talented team that they all are. Once it is light, the anticipation of finding that we have encouraged a badger into a cage overnight for a short stay is only beaten by then being able to health check, vaccinate and re health check him or her. And to then watch him or her amble or sprint away back to the sett.
Some of our experienced volunteers went through training to become trappers and vaccinators, and all achieved the extremely high standard required to pass. A big thank you to BBOWT for facilitating the training. Our increased licenced team of trappers and vaccinators finished our last Round of vaccination for 2022 on a high, with 24 badgers vaccinated over the final weekend.
We could not run this project without the time and dedication given by each one of our volunteers, whether it is those wonderful people who have been here since day one or those that joined us this year, and everyone in between.
We would also like to thank our supportive landowners - we work closely with them and feel privileged to access what is their private land and of course their badgers. If you are a landowner looking to join the project next year get in touch - we are looking to add new sites.
A huge thank you too, to those that have donated money. This project is totally financed by donations and grants, and we understand how tight money is for everyone right now. We are still fundraising - all money donated from now on will help us plan the 2023 season.
And finally ….
If you already love badgers or simply want to find out more about them, and how they live, get in touch. We will run further training in the spring and probably organise sett surveying during the winter. Join Oxfordshire Badger Group and come along to make new friends and enjoy our great outdoors.
The Vaccination Team